Monday, November 22, 2010

Bal (Honey)

An extremely beautiful to watch film, visually superior to Yumurta (Egg) and Süt (Milk) and with a message that will be up to viewers to decode as in all silences the few spoken words are key to identify symbols, images and metaphors that lead to one of the two layers that this film has or at least, that I discovered.

Had to get out of my system my emotions to say that the last film in the trilogy is by far the best and the hardest to watch when you do not appreciate extreme silence, absence of words, absence of music, extraordinary long shots, very slow pace showing what apparently is nothing out of the ordinary in the life of residents in rural areas, great framing composition indoors and outdoors, spectacular camera, all with a simple story full of “hidden” symbols, clues, messages. Yes my friends, the films is NOT easy to watch, NOT easy to understand but if you sustain the pace enough to keep watching you will admit that is extremely easy to see the beauty of and inside the film.

I’m still blessed with good memory so I do remember Yumurta and Süt, from the visuals to the story I saw and the messages I got; if you remember Yusuf, the poet, when he was forty-ish (Yumurta) and when he was in his late teens (Süt) you will also have to recall that the story is told in reverse-order. But in case you don’t remember –briefly- in Yumurta Yusuf returns to his birth place because her mother passed away only to finally find love; in Süt Yusuf lives with her mother, tries to have his poems published and tries to deal with her mother having an affair.

The story continues with 8-years-old Yusuf living with both his parents, now a quiet, observant of everything that happens around him, having problems learning to read, desiring to win the class prize, not close to his mother and extremely close to his father. The outstanding one long-shot opening scene tells us everything; we know what’s going to happen: is the death of his father, his best friend, his only confident, the only person he really spokes to. This is what you will see and what I call the easiest story layer to follow and understand.

But there is another layer that speaks about nature and absolutely complements the incredible beautiful outdoors photographed in this film. This is a film about nature, its splendorous beauty, the ideal harmony between nature and man, the world as it was and now seems no longer is as nature is starting to die on us. Where do I get this message? Remember the girl Yusuf blissfully saw and heard reading a poem? Do you know the poem? Is Sensation by Rimbaud. Think why Yusuf stuttered when became nervous and why as the film advances he becomes silent. Think why the bees, the most noble and nature “thermometer” of all animals are dying. I could go on and on, but think never before gave away so many clues to a film story; but again, I really think is not easy to watch or to get the “hidden” messages.

Performance by Bora Altas as Yusuf is incomprehensible as for me is so hard to understand how a young boy did such an extraordinary performance with mostly poke face and stiff body that absolutely tells everything just with tiny and furtive expressions. Truly extraordinary but more impressive is to find a director that could work with a child the way that Semih Kaplanoğlu did. My sincere and big chapeau master Kaplanoğlu. As you can imagine tech specs are impeccable with true breath taking cinematography.

Before seeing Bal I was thinking of watching the three films again in chronological order; not anymore. Will watch the three films again but will keep the director order as believe I got the reason why he chose to tell the story in reverse order; besides the “hidden” messages in all films are relevant to the moment when each film was created. I’m sad because Yusuf’s story is over but I know the three masterpieces will be always here, with me, to revisit them as often as I can.

As we know the film is the Golden Bear winner at 2010 Berlinale and is Turkey’s submission to the Oscar. Can help but to think that not many Academy members will enjoy the film as definitively this film is not for general audiences, film is for those that appreciate cinema as true Art form and as such I do strongly recommend this outstanding film.


Watch trailer @MOC

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